Biden’s trip to Texas to focus on effects of burn pits

President Biden’s planned trip to Texas next week will focus on the effects of burn pits, an issue that he highlighted during his State of the Union address. 

In a statement on Sunday, the White House said Biden will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday to speak with veterans, caregivers and survivors of the toxic practice during U.S. wars in the Middle East. 

Biden will also visit a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Fort Worth to receive a briefing on health services for veterans, and he will deliver remarks at a resource center “on expanding access to health care and benefits for veterans affected by environmental exposures during military service as part of his Unity Agenda for the Nation,” the White House said.

Burn pits were used during the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to burn everything from medical and human waste to metal and aluminum cans, plastics, rubber, wood and food waste. Exposure to the resulting toxins has caused symptoms ranging from irritation and burning of eyes or throat to coughing, breathing difficulties, skin itching and rashes.

Helping veterans exposed to toxic chemicals due to burn pits has gained bipartisan momentum, and the issue has been personal for the president, whose son Beau Biden died of brain cancer in 2015.

The president invoked his son in Tuesday’s address. “We don’t know for sure if a burn pit was the cause of his brain cancer, or the diseases of so many of our troops,” he said. “But I’m committed to finding out everything we can.”

Biden also said the VA will be taking new measures to care for veterans suffering from numerous cancers related to exposure to toxic chemicals. 

“The VA is pioneering new ways of linking toxic exposures to diseases, already helping more veterans get benefits,” Biden said during his speech. “And tonight, I’m announcing we’re expanding eligibility to veterans suffering from nine respiratory cancers.”

The Senate last month passed the Health Care for Burn Pit Victims Act, which expands VA health care for veterans who served after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and were exposed to toxic burn pits.

Tags burn pits Fort Worth Joe Biden Texas

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